Tag Archives: ferry

Call for action on Rosyth Ferries

Commenting on the changes to the Rosyth-Zeebrugge ferry service, Cathy Peattie said:

“While I welcome the improvement in the freight provision, I am disappointed that this is being done at the expense of Scotland’s only passenger service to Europe.

“Norfolkline had reported a rise in passengers travelling to Scotland, so there is clearly demand, and the need for a passenger service is likely to increase.

“I hope that the Scottish Government will engage constructively with the operators to see what can be done to support passenger services.”

Cathy is Deputy Convener of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee.

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Rosyth Ferry

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Cathy Peattie began by declaring her constituency interest.

“Forth Ports is based in Grangemouth, and many hauliers who use the Rosyth ferry are based in Falkirk East. They carry paper, forest products, seafood, electronics, whisky and other spirits, and many other manufactured goods. Rosyth is easily accessible and, contrary to what some have claimed, the Rosyth to Zeebrugge service has been a success for passengers and freight traffic. It is popular with hauliers in my constituency, and I have heard many good reports about it from passengers.

“The service is an attractive alternative to air travel—the growth in passenger numbers shows that—and we need such services if we are to meet our climate change targets.

“In many ways, the freight operation is important to, and dovetails neatly with, freight movements through the port of Grangemouth. Together, both operations are essential to the health and growth of the Scottish economy. They handle a huge proportion of Scotland’s exports; indeed, I have been told that a tenth of Scotland’s gross domestic product moves through Grangemouth.

“With appropriate development, the Rosyth market could be significantly expanded. Many lorries and car transporters still travel hundreds of miles from ports further south, but they could come direct to Scotland from the continent, and vice versa. As fuel costs rise, the competitive advantage of using Rosyth will increase. Moreover, extending sea transport services and reducing road miles results in environmental benefits.

“What goes through Rosyth could treble if we get things right. The market is there for the taking. I was in Rosyth last week and was impressed by the capacity and facilities there. It has a skilled and trained workforce.

“The ferry service should represent an attractive opportunity for any new operator. Things may take time, but I call on the Scottish Government to ensure that doors are not closed before solutions can be found. I am sure that back benchers will want to do whatever they can. In that context, I suggest that we set up a cross-party working group to consider what we can do to move things forward.

“I look forward to a successful Rosyth ferry service in the future.”

Other contributions to the debate can be found here

The Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change committee, of which Cathy is Deputy Convener, has published its report on Scottish Ferries.

News release on the publication of the reportReport on Ferry Services in Scotland (HTML version) | PDF version of the report – 2.14MB | Further Information on the Inquiry into Ferry Services in Scotland

On the buses

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Cathy Peattie has highlighted the shortcomings of public transport in the Falkirk area, and called for action to tackle the problems, including bus regulation.

“Public transport is one of the most persistent and widespread sources of dissatisfaction among my constituents,” she said.

“I wish that First ScotRail would give my constituents a better deal. Fares from Falkirk and Polmont to Edinburgh and Glasgow are more per mile than most. A passenger station in Grangemouth would also be exceedingly welcome.

“Rail might be expensive and serve too few places, but bus travel is undoubtedly the biggest bugbear. If we are serious about tackling climate change and encouraging people to use public transport, we need better buses, more routes and timetables that meet the public’s needs.

“It is too easy to say that there is no demand when the lack of services has forced travellers to use private transport. It is too easy to say that people would rather use their cars and that buses are uncomfortable, inaccessible and expensive. It is also too easy to say that services are not viable when, if the truth be known, they arrive late, leave early and miss connections, if they appear at all.

“People need reliable and affordable public transport that is a pleasure to use, not a nightmare. Without it, we will not achieve our targets for modal shift and climate change.

“To be fair, some bus companies realise their shortcomings and the better among them attempt to take on board passengers’ views, but the bottom line is always profits, not people.

“Competition between bus companies is often imperfect, if it exists at all. In such circumstances, we cannot expect companies to provide adequate self-regulation and to achieve proper integration of public transport. We need Scotland-wide regulation. We also need to address the Scottish Government’s policies, which have left Scotland’s bus operators with higher costs than those in other parts of the United Kingdom and have led to massive fare increases for bus passengers throughout Scotland.

“We have seen a secret deal to extend the rail franchise and higher-than-inflation increases in rail fares. There has also been outrage among users of ferry services on the Clyde, in the northern isles and on most routes in Argyll because of discrimination in ferry fares between islands.

“In particular, we should strive for better provision for older and disabled travellers, and young families with prams and small children. Bus timetables should include information about low-loader and accessible buses. I still hear stories about disabled people waiting an hour or more for an accessible bus. That is not good enough.

“Free bus passes have been very well received by the people of Scotland. I have yet to hear a good reason for not extending concessionary travel to those who are on the lower rate of the disability allowance. We must also address the need for a concessionary travel scheme for those who depend on community transport, and I welcome what the minister said about that. It is time to stop dithering and to regain the momentum to improve public transport in Scotland.”